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AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2009 Sep;23(9):759-63. doi: 10.1089/apc.2009.0061.

HIV testing and conspiracy beliefs regarding the origins of HIV among African Americans.

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  • 1VA National Serious Mental Illness Treatment Research Evaluation Center, 2215 Fuller Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48105, USA.


Conspiracy beliefs regarding the origins of HIV are common among African Americans, and have been associated with engaging in HIV risk behaviors but also with earlier diagnosis among HIV patients. The objective of the present study was to test the association of HIV serostatus testing with conspiracy beliefs. A total of 1430 African Americans from low-income neighborhoods with high rates of drug use were surveyed in 1997-1999 in face-to-face interviews. Two 4-point items assessed if participants agreed that "AIDS was started by an experiment that went wrong" and "AIDS was created to kill blacks and poor folks." A binary variable indicated if the respondent agreed with the statements, on average. 22.5% of the sample endorsed conspiracy beliefs, 4.0% of whom reported not having had an HIV test, compared to 7.7% of those who did not endorse conspiracy beliefs. In multivariable logistic regression modeling, never having had an HIV test was significantly associated with conspiracy beliefs (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 0.43, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.3-4.3), having a high school education (AOR = 0.55, CI = 0.35-0.84), having depression (AOR = 1.61, CI = 1.02-2.52), female gender (AOR = 0.54, CI = 0.34-0.86), younger age, and a history of injection drug use (AOR = 0.36, CI = 0.23-0.56), but not sex risk behaviors (multiple partners, irregular condom use). The finding that individuals who have conspiracy beliefs are more likely to have been tested for HIV may partially explain why HIV-positive individuals who endorse conspiracy beliefs are more likely to obtain an earlier diagnosis.

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